Literary Victory: Banned Books Returning to Egypt and Tunisia

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Tunisians crowd around a window to view books for sale in a bookshop window that were previously banned.

Christopher Furlong / Getty Images

Among the citizens’ newfound freedoms is the ability to read what they want – a far cry from the information void that appeared in Egypt during the Jan. 25 revolution.

The now-ousted presidents in both Tunisia and Egypt took a hard-line stance toward critical media in their countries. But after Zine el Abidine Ben Ali fled Tunisia and Egyptians forced the resignation of Hosni Mubarak, formerly banned books are allowed to emerge from dusty bookshelves and cellars.

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La Regente de Carthage by Nicolas Beau and Catherine Graciet, which criticized the overly influential hand of Ben Ali’s wife Leila, was promptly banned by the regime upon publication in 2009. The title is now reappearing in bookstores for sale, along with The Assassination of Salah Ben Youssef by Omar Khlifi, which details the 1961 shooting of a former Tunisian minister.

Egypt is also cheering their lack of reading restrictions. Tahrir Square, the site of the protests last month that commanded the world’s attention, will hold another large gathering at the end of March: a book fair. Hosted by the American University of Cairo bookstore, revelers and readers alike can celebrate the epicenter of revolution and their newfound freedoms.

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